Over 100 published fake research papers have been removed from subscription services for two large scientific publishers. Springer and IEEE have removed these papers after a French researcher discovered that they were computer-generated gibberish.
During the last two years, Cyril Labbe, a French computer scientist, has been cataloging computer-generated fake research papers that had made it to more than 30 different published conference proceedings between the years 2008 and 2013. More than a hundred of these papers had been published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineer (IEEE) located in New York. Around twenty of the papers had also been published by Springer located in Germany.
One of the papers was actually published as a proceeding from the International Conference on Quality, Reliability, Risk, Maintenance and Safety Engineering in Chengdu, China. The website for the conference claims that all papers are “reviewed for merits and contents.” Most of the papers are in the fields of computer science and math.One of the titles; “An Evaluation of E-Business with Fin” is a good example of just how much of it is gibberish.
The questions is how did over 120 fake research papers filled with mostly gibberish get published to begin with? Labbe says it is due to scientists under intense pressure to produce that leads to these papers. However, he can’t explain how they end up getting published. He says that all such papers should be evaluated by “peer-review” and even though he can not explain how they got published he does think that each one merits a full investigation.
Even the publishers can not explain how or why the papers were published. They stated that they are in the process of investigation and “taking the papers down as quickly as possible.” A spokesman for Springer said it would take some time to complete the task since they publish over 2,000 journals and 8,000 books every year.
Labbe’s mission was to find fake research papers and, ironically enough, has even published a paper in Springer on how to find computer-generated research papers. He as also constructed a website that can detect whether or not a paper has been computer-generated. He says that the site is very efficient in its job and can even detect duplicates and plagiarisms.
Some professors say that since their salaries are dependent on the number of research papers they produce it can lead to some creating fake documents. Most schools have a merit score system for their professors that is affected by the professor’s success in publishing research papers.
This is not the first time a fake research paper has been published either. In 1996 a physics professor submitted a report to a philosophy journal arguing that gravity is “postmodern” since it is “free from dependence on the concept of truth.” The professor wrote is has a test in satire, however, it was accepted and published in the magazine Social Text.
Thousands of research papers are published every year by hundreds of scientists all over the globe. In today’s high demand world it is possible that some would be tempted to cheat and use computer-generated fake research papers to get a leg up on the competition. Even if those papers are mostly gibberish.
By Adam Stier